Why Local Shelters Rescue International Dogs

Written by Christina Furlano and Tori Gass

Late at night on September 2, volunteers from the Etobicoke Humane Society (EHS) drove out to Pearson Airport to meet a flight coming all the way from Taiwan. On board the plane were five special dogs who had endured close to 16 hours of flying in hopes of finding a loving family and a second chance at life.

Although our priority is assisting dogs in need in our city, we regularly work with partner organizations to take in dogs from other parts of Ontario and Canada, as well as from overseas. We often take in dogs from countries such as Greece, Portugal, the Cayman Islands and of course Taiwan.

But a question people often ask, is why are we taking in these dogs when there are local animals that need homes? The answer is because we have the room, the resources and the ability to help.

What about local dogs?

It’s a misconception that international dogs are taking the place of local dogs in shelters. The good news about Toronto is there aren’t large numbers of dogs surrendered by their owners and even fewer are found as strays. Combine that with a high demand for dogs as pets, and it means shelters like ours are able to help these dogs from other locations who find themselves in terrible situations.

Taiwan is just one example of an area where stray dogs run rampant. And while many places around the world have dog shelters with incredible volunteers, they don’t have the space, resources – or more importantly – local demand to adopt these dogs. Dogs aren’t considered companions, especially when they’re not purebred. Shelters are often over capacity and underfunded and the likelihood for adoption is slim.

Adopting a rescue is becoming cool

But in cities like ours, adopting a rescue dog has become increasingly popular. Turnover for dogs at shelters like EHS is high, with most moving from arrival to adoption in only a few weeks. This process includes home visits to ensure a good fit for the dog and future owners. Some cases might take longer, due to behavioural aspects that require the right family environment to ensure the dog can live socially and interact with others safely. EHS is very careful about which overseas rescues we partner with, and the requirements we have to take dogs in is very stringent. We coordinate with international rescues to make sure the dogs being sent are healthy, good tempered and can be quickly adopted into a loving home. In fact, many international dogs who come into EHS are adopted quickly because we know exactly what we’re getting and can post them for adoption right away; this helps open spots for other rescues.

It’s important to note that EHS is not alone in helping international dogs. Animal rescue organizations everywhere do the same, helping countries with an overabundance of strays. Our belief is that these dogs all deserve a good home, regardless of where they might come from. And as we know we can find new families for them, we’re happy to help out.

Happy tails

At EHS, our volunteers have watched as many international dogs quickly change from being shy and timid to happy, friendly family members that thrive in their new homes. In fact, the five dogs from Taiwan were all adopted within two weeks of arriving at EHS, which is another success story for both us and the dogs.

And that’s why we continue to help these animals get a new lease on life.

How to help

What can you do to help? Consider donating to EHS or watch our social media channels to see if one of our animals might be a good fit for you and your family. Having any EHS pet placed in a forever home helps our organization, other potential rescues, and you – the possible future owner of the new love of your life.

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